Toots, Clarendon's finest

Music

Toots, Clarendon's finest

By Howard Campbell
Observer senior writer

Thursday, September 17, 2020

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Along with Trench Town and Rockfort, Clarendon produced most of Jamaica's early music stars; among them Toots Hibbert.

Toots, who died September 11 at age 77 at the University Hospital of the West Indies in Kingston, started his career in the early 1960s the same time as his 'parishina' Derrick Morgan.

“Toots a di real man, mi bredrin an' mi big bredda. Him mean everything to mi as a friend an' a artiste,” said Freddie McGregor, another Clarendon-born act.

McGregor went to Studio One with Peter Austin and Ernest Wilson of The Clarendonians after Toots and The Maytals left that studio, for which they did songs like the biblical Six And Seven Books of Moses.

It was Bam Bam, their song that won the first Festival Song Competition in 1966, that made the biggest impression on McGregor, who was 10 years old.

“I don't know where him head was at di time but him sing dat song with a lot of heart and energy. It really resonated with di country,” he said.

McGregor last saw Toots in August when they competed in the Festival Song Competition, won by Buju Banton with I am A Jamaican. He believes Toots' contribution to music has been overlooked in Jamaica and pointed to one area where he was very vocal.

“He always spoke about his royalties an' how he got a raw deal. He was never afraid to speak up for his rights,” said McGregor.

In addition to Clement Dodd at Studio One, Toots and The Maytals recorded for a number of producers including Byron Lee, Ronnie Nasralla, Leslie Kong and Chris Blackwell at Island Records.

Their greatest success was with Kong for whom they did songs like 54-46, Monkey Man, Pressure Drop, and Sweet And Dandy.

Toots' last album, Got to be Tough, was released by Trojan Jamaica/BMG Records in August.


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